D&D 3E/3.5 Retro-cloning D&D 3.0

Yora

Legend
Back in the day when 3.5e was released, I absolutely loved it, like seemingly the vast majority of people. I dumped my old original rulebooks on ebay and was really happy with the new books that I kept using until eventually switching to Pathfinder. But in hindsight, the old 3rd Edition and 3.5e feel like a much bigger shift in the tone and style of D&D than was apparent at the time. Even though I played vastly more 3.5e than I had played 3rd Edition before, I am having a lot of nostalgia for the former but can't emotionally connect to the later. 3.5e feels like part of the Pathfinder, 4th ed. and 5th ed. family of RPGs, while the early 3rd edition books feel a lot more reminiscent to AD&D to me. When I look at books like Monsters of Faerûn, Fiend Folio, Manual of the Planes, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Lords of Darkness, Silver Marches, and Unapproachable East (a very early 3.5e book but with the old feel) I really want to run a campaign with those again.

Unfortunately, the original 3rd Edition core rulebooks from 2000 do not exist as pdfs. You can't get them anywhere. But the original rtf files that WotC released as the first SRD are still around. Those are a horrible unsorted mess with bad formatting that quickly made me give up on trying to recreate the old books as single files a few years ago, but fortunately some kind and obviously mad soul actually did go through with this earlier this year. Before the Empire (the 3.0 SRD)
It's available both in pdf which you can easily copy and paste, but also as odt which you can edit directly.
This is probably the closest you can get to getting the original 3rd Edition rules again.
There is also one online version of the original SRD for anyone interested in this discussion but not wanting to get the pdfs.

But to be fair, there were plenty of things about the original rules that kind of sucked. A revised edition was not a bad idea in itself. It's just that some of the changes made by 3.5e are not universally seen as improvements by many people and are causing new problems with the game of their own.

What I want to do with this thread is not to collaboratively design a specific retroclone of 3rd edition. Ultimately, what changes to gameplay are good or bad is a subjective thing that depends a lot on what each person wants to get out of the game. So I think there is no need to try to convince anyone that any option shared here is the right choice and better pick over the others. But to make the right pick for yourself, it of course helps a lot to understand what issue each proposal is meant to address and what it is supposed to accomplish, so please go into exhaustive detail about the reasoning behind your proposals and ask questions about those that you don't find convincing.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Yora

Legend
One of the things people really seemed to have disliked about the original rules and that was greatly applauded as having been fixed in 3.5e was the number of "dead levels" for the different character classes.
In hindsight, after having spend a lot of time with B/X and AD&D retroclones, I very much disagree with that. I object to the very concept of "dead levels" being a thing. 3.5e wanted to make it so that all characters always get some new feature every time they gain a level instead of just improving their roll modifiers and hit points. Character builds and optimization existed before that, but I feel this change really put it into overdrive. I believe that characters getting more capable over time without significantly changing is actually a good thing. I feel that it is more conductive to getting into the mindset of playing a character in a story rather than playing a build in a combat simulator.
Characters not getting new special abilities at most levels is the main feature of the original rules that makes me even consider going through all the trouble of trying to fix all the other issues with the game, rather than just playing Pathfinder or 5th edition.

Another issue I remember quite well as coming up frequently as a controversial change is damage reduction. The original version was that you need a weapon of a specific +X enchantment to deal full damage, and without one the damage would be massively reduced. 3.5e changed it so that you can overcome many types of DR with weapons of specific special materials or alignment enchantments instead, and even if you didn't have the right weapon, there was often still a good chance that not all of your damage would be negated and at least some get through.
Unfortunately, I don't actually remember the arguments that were made for the original DR system being better. Only that I found them very convincing. Though I believe one of them was that the multiple different types of DR greatly increased the Magic Weapon Golf Bag issue, as with the original system, your new +2 weapon could completely replace your old +1 weapon.
 

Enrico Poli1

Adventurer
Don't retroclone; get the books on eBay or get the pdfs.

Personally, these days, when I want to use an adventure from past editions, I use the ruleset it was written for. For example, I use D&D3.0 when I want to play the Ashardalon modules (The Sunless Citadel etc) or the original Rappan Athuk.
By the way, I agree with the OP in that the atmosphere 3.0 creates is more similar to old school than 3.5. But 3.0 is also severely broken (with spells such as Haste and Harm, or magic items such as Rhino Hide, Absorbing Shield, Bracelet of Friends etc).
 




It's a bit funny but I always found PF1 felt like a much simplified version of D&D 3.0 and 3.5.

Unless I'm mistaken both 3.0 and 3.5 had a strange skill system where it actually mattered, if you multi classed, on which level you purchased what skill (because the cost of a skill was affected by which class you were currently leveling).

Also 3.0 and 3.5 had skill synergies which were pointless, and they had too many skills. PF1 simplified the skill system a lot by just making it so that all skills cost the same amount, but if you have at least one point invested in a particular class skill then you get a permanent bonus of +3.

But I guess there might be other things in 3.0 that might've been simpler than I remember.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
It's a bit funny but I always found PF1 felt like a much simplified version of D&D 3.0 and 3.5.

Unless I'm mistaken both 3.0 and 3.5 had a strange skill system where it actually mattered, if you multi classed, on which level you purchased what skill (because the cost of a skill was affected by which class you were currently leveling).

Also 3.0 and 3.5 had skill synergies which were pointless, and they had too many skills. PF1 simplified the skill system a lot by just making it so that all skills cost the same amount, but if you have at least one point invested in a particular class skill then you get a permanent bonus of +3.

But I guess there might be other things in 3.0 that might've been simpler than I remember.
The PF1 +3 was only for class based skills. This replaced the .5 for non-class skills in 3E.
 

payn

I don't believe in the no-win scenario
Im trying to grok this. Is it based mostly on setting and adventure material? I only ask because I felt 3.5 got rid of a lot of pointless mechanics in 3.0. Then, of course, PF1 did the same to 3.5.
 

Yora

Legend
The biggest difference between original and revised 3rd edition is indeed not the crunch. The systems are still similar enough that you can easily run all the early material even with the 3.5e PHB. Probably even with Pathfinder. Compatibility issues aren't really the reason I'm toying with this idea.

But as I mentioned in the earlier posts, I've long been feeling that 3.5e wasn't really the revision that 3rd edition should have got. I see the sparseness of the class level tables as a valuable feature rather than a flaw.
Cutting the amount of damage that is blocked by damage reduction and energy resistance by half for several enemies seemed like it reduced a major nuisance, but the difficulty of being able to deal damage to certain enemies when you don't have the right weapons and spells is what actually makes the enemies feel different and distinctive and creates a greater need to search for alternative approaches than just brute force.

The skill point system indeed sucks. It's one of the most annoying parts of the whole game. And it still sucks in 3.5e. That's definitely something that I think should be modified to make the game less of a chore.
 

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads

Top